Traveling or More Stuff - What Makes you Happy?Spend your money on the stuff that research says makes you happy – traveling.

Apparently, science says it’s not what you have that makes you happy, but what experiences you have. A recent psychological research study from Cornell University A Wonderful Life: Experiential Consumption and the Pursuit of Happiness,” published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology confirmed that the key to happiness is through experiences rather than things. Now there is no excuse for not traveling more!

Say what? But those shiny new cars and my new TV makes me happy. Well, that might be true. They can make you happy, but only for a short amount of time.

According to Dr. Thomas Gilovich “We buy things to make us happy, and we succeed. a_southern_traveler - Costa Rica_travelingBut only for a while. New things are exciting to us at first, but then we adapt to them.”

Think about it in this way, you get a raise or a new car, but often the thrill quickly fades. “The raise gets absorbed into the budget, the car loses that new-car smell and feel. The term “hedonic treadmill” was coined to capture this downside of adaptation – the need to achieve and acquire more and more to combat adaptation and receive the same hedonic benefit (Brickman & Campbell, 1971).”

My parents always told me the more you have, the more it owns you. Now, science seems to prove that saying. The more you have, the more you want. We adapt to our things, so they no longer give us the same value they first had.

What Makes You Happy?

Non-material experiences, like traveling, bring us closer to in social relationships. Whether that’s making friends while traveling solo or traveling with your spouse or family – those memories will bring you closer together. Our experiences connect us with other people and bring us happiness.

The research indicates there are two other primary reasons that non-material possessions out way material positions and give us greater happiness: Non-material experiences form a bigger part of a person’s identity, and Non-material experiences are evaluated more on their own terms and evoke fewer social comparisons than material purchases, in other words, you don’t have to keep up with the Joneses.

Knowing material things won’t make you happy means we can now save that hard earned income; not to buy a TV we don’t need, or the latest cell phone when ours works perfectly well. We can save up the funds that we would purchase monetary things and make great memories that expand our world and make us better human beings.

This does not mean you have to travel to far off places. In fact, just a trip to the zoo, an arboretum, or enjoying a cooking or painting class could be a great way to make wonderful memories with those you care about.

Traveling or More Stuff - What Makes you Happy? See What Science says.